God of War may have popularized Greek mythology in video games but it wasn’t the first series to wade into the pool of Greek gods. In 1987, Kid Icarus was released in North America for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Developed and published by Nintendo, the action-platformer introduced us to the character Pit and spawned several sequels. Today, we get our angel wings in this Kid Icarus review!
Kid Icarus Plot:
The game and series are called Kid Icarus, but why that name is included I have no idea because I have no idea who Kid Icarus is! There’s no mention of this person and frankly, I’m confused! But anyway…
Earth was once ruled by Palutena the Goddess of Light and Medusa, the Goddess of Darkness. With titles like that, it was only a matter of time before the two started fighting which is exactly what happened. Palutena gave the gift of light to the humans on Earth while Medusa grew angry with the humans and turned them into stone. Upset by this cruel act, Palutena curses Medusa into a monster and casts her into the underworld.
Time passed as Medusa plotted revenge against Palutena. The Goddess of Darkness raised an army of monsters in the underworld and unleashed them upon Earth and the Sky Palace where Palutena lives. The monsters steal three treasures of Palutena, a mirror shield, light arrows, and the Wings of Pegasus. With her treasures stolen, Palutena’s powers grow weak and she is imprisoned by Medusa in the Sky Palace. In her final moments of defense, Palutena sends a bow and arrows to an angel named Pit.
Pit takes these and sets off to retrieve the three treasures that Palutena has lost to restore her power. He must transverse the underworld, overworld, and the skyworld searching for the items while battling Medusa’s monster army. Once these items are found, Pit faces Medusa in a showdown to free Palutena from her prison. With her rescue complete, Palutena transforms Pit into a full angel.
Kid Icarus Gameplay:
The gameplay is quite clever for the game being from 1987. Instead of being a side-scrolling level from the beginning, I started my Kid Icarus review by climbing up platforms and avoiding enemies as you try and escape the underworld. The first few levels are much tougher than the final ones. Each time you kill an enemy you get a heart, which to my surprise didn’t raise your health, but instead, gave you points. Now, I really didn’t care about points, I just wanted to beat the game and complete my Kid Icarus review but that was my first mistake. If you intend on beating this game. GET THE POINTS. As many as you can.
After each level you complete, your points get tallied and you are given boosts in health and power. I didn’t know that so heading into the final level my character was relatively weak due to my lack of point collecting during my Kid Icarus review. Kid Icarus (I have no clue why it is called that) is challenging. Enemies come at you from every spot on the screen, hordes repeat and it takes more than one arrow to kill them.
Each level is filled with little stone statues of Palutena’s soldiers, once again I didn’t do my research so I didn’t know you could free them with a hammer. The hammer is a secondary weapon that you can only use a few times so use it wisely. The reason you want to free Palutena’s soldiers from their stone imprisonment is that they help you battle the bosses when the stage is done. Whoops, no one told me that so I was left fighting the bosses by myself until the third level where I figured it out.
Kid Icarus has many different things about it that make it a good game. For one, it has a shop in the middle of the level where you may purchase upgrades, weapons, and health. I did so a few times during my Kid Icarus review. Besides the levels being extremely difficult, they are complete mazes. Don’t believe me? Check out the layout of a level from the game.
As you can see, not only do you need to avoid and kill enemies for points, you must navigate your way through a maze while stockpiling on points, weapons, health, and allies. It’s quite the checklist from a game so old. I imagine before the internet back in the 80s and early 90s, gamers who played this probably mapped out the levels on a piece of paper. How nostalgic.
Once you climb out of the underworld, the levels become a little bit easier, it’s more side-scrolling instead of jump, jump, jump. Reaching the final level during my Kid Icarus review I was excited to meet Medusa and end her reign. Oh, how I was so unprepared. At this point, you are given all the power-ups, including the Wings of Pegasus granting you the ability to fly. Well, I reached the end of the level and it looped back to the beginning. I thought to myself, “what the hell?” Maybe I had to do this twice, I know a lot of Nintendo games back in the day were quirky about that kind of stuff. Well, I once again got the end and it looped again. I was pissed this time so I looked up why it was doing that. Well wouldn’t you know, you have to kill 50 enemies in that level to reach Medusa, so the level loops over until you defeat 50 bastards. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except because I didn’t collect a lot of points, my weapons weren’t very powerful so it took about five shots from my arrows to kill one enemy, and to top it off, you glide through the level so you can’t stop and wait for enemies, you have to shoot nonstop all over the screen hoping you hit an enemy five times before you fly off. It was extremely challenging. I was mentally drained, frustrated and pissed at how stupid this was.
Finally, I reached Medusa, and while it was difficult I managed to defeat her by drifting in one spot while avoiding the snakes that she sends at you. Medusa also looks…like a green bean with facial hair?
There are multiple endings in this game (once again to my surprise). There is the good ending in which Pit is transformed into a full glowing angel, and there is the average ending in which Pit is given headgear from Palutena. I’d like to see them all but feel like there are too many games out there to play, so this is my only Kid Icarus review.
Kid Icarus was one of the first games from the NES that I sought out to review. For some reason, I was drawn to it, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it’d be. It kicked my butt numerous times.
Kid Icarus Review Score:
The game had many new concepts to a game from that time, it was very difficult, but if I had played it correctly then the game would have been a little bit easier. The story was cool, although obviously, there isn’t a whole lot presented in the actual game. If you like platform, side-scrollers with mazes and a challenge I recommend it, if not. Move along.
Kid Icarus scores a 7.1 out of 10.
What would you write in your Kid Icarus review? Did Kid Icarus fly under the radar when it first came out? Why the heck is it called Kid Icarus, who is that? Did you make similar mistakes that I did when playing Kid Icarus? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!
If you’d like to own a copy of Kid Icarus for the Nintendo, you can purchase a preowned copy of it from eBay for around $20.